Best of the season.
[This review probably contains some generalized spoilers, and it’s probably leaning slightly towards fanboyism. It’s extremely disorganized, but it’s also insightful. ]
Fate/zero is by far, the top show aired this fall season. Now what makes Fate/zero the “best” of the season? Well, numerous reasons do. In comparison to the sequel Fate/stay night (sequel was adapted prior by another animation studio), Fate/zero was animated by Ufotable. Ufotable was the production company between the acclaimed Kara no Kyoukai series. This being said, Fate/zero boasts top-notch production quality along with vivid storytelling.
(I normally don’t do blatant summaries, but it’s kind of necessary for this review. Fate/zero basically revolves around winning the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail basically grants the master any wish, and to win, the master has to eliminate the other masters through the assistance of servants. In other words, it’s a survival game between the masters, and last man standing wins.)
Now, the combat in Fate/zero revolves around the use of “mana”, but it’s by no means a recycled concept. The magic is Fate/zero is nowhere near the system of “traditional magic”. Traditional magic would revolve around casting the elements of fire, water, air and earth. In comparison with other anime that include “magic”, the magic in Fate/zero doesn’t revolve around wizardry and casting spells. It’s almost done in a completely different manner, it could hardly be called just magic, there’s so many elements in play (I’ll leave out the specifics in the review, it’s much more fulfilling to actually see it).
The combat in Fate/zero is also something to be noted. Unlike the majority of action anime where action is relatively linear (trading blows, bigger spells do more damage, etc), the combat in Fate/zero is strategic. It’s basically a giant chess game between the masters as to what to do next, each master has their strengths, and each has their weaknesses. It’s up to them to safeguard their weaknesses, and to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses. But this doesn’t mean the action scenes are lackluster, they’re actually animated extremely well.
However, even though there are numerous action scenes, a vast majority of the first season is dialogue. Unlike the majority of “action” anime, the story isn’t told through mindless combat. Brains wins over brawn when it comes to storytelling. The dialogue not only builds and galvanizes the storyline, but it also gives great insight on the “mechanics” of the world, all within a relatively short period of time.
Remarkably, the characters are actually all “good”. Not good as in they’re all likable, but good as in they’re not generic; they’re all somewhat complex. There isn’t a black and white behind the motives of the of the characters. They’re all distinct, and they all have an aspect of their personality that ultimately separates them from one another. It’s difficult to logically blatantly claim which character is “right”, it’s a battle of morals. The ethics you uphold will most likely be the decisive catalyst in deciding who should win. Unfortunately, the individual characters aren’t as developed as much as I’d like them to be. It’s a relatively short season, there just isn’t enough time to successfully build each character. It’s an inevitable reality to have to homogenize some portions of their personalities and beliefs with logical deductions. However, the second season should develop the characters further, to a greater extent. (From what I know, the second season is airing during the spring season to ensure the top-notch production quality)
Fate/zero also manages to incorporate some philosophical arguments. The philosophy that each character holds, drives and catalyzes their lust for victory. There isn’t a clear good, and there isn’t a clear bad in Fate/zero. It doesn’t have the luxury of using a monochromatic scheme when it comes to deciding on what’s good and what’s bad. It’s mostly decided on whether you agree with the motives of the masters or not. The motives could be argued as just and right, but it could also be argued for as blind and arrogant.
Fate/zero also manages to implement some history into it. Although relatively minor, it’s there. The servants are basically derived from some notable figure in history. The actual identity of the servants could be easy, or it could be difficult. It’s almost a game of it’s own to figure out the actual identities of the servants without searching it up. It’s not that significant, but it’s still, an awesome inclusion.
To sum it up, Fate/zero is a great show. It’s entertaining to watch, and was a pain to keep up with while on-going (was under the paranoia that the show would inevitably end up as a disappointment). It’s definitely worth checking out.
Objective Score: 9/10. Although Fate/zero is a great show, it’s doesn’t match up to my definition of a masterpiece. It has a few setbacks such as character development, and a somewhat rushed storyline, but its benefits far outweigh the deficits.
Subjective Score: 10/10. Now, if you only look on the positives of the show, then it’s a masterpiece. It contains everything that the majority of people look for in an anime. It has a great storyline, it has unique characters, amazing action scenes, as well as a level of immersion. It keeps the viewer anticipating the next episode, and continues to enthrall them in the prospects of the second concluding season.